Took another trip to Seattle to see my boyfriend.
I'm not going to cover every place we went, because I want to focus on our dinner Monday night at Mashiko, which was really the highlight of the trip.
Friday morning we met our friend R. and went to Salumi for lunch. I had the lamb prosciutto once again, boyfriend had the cured meat plate, and I can't remember what R. ordered. R. thought the bread was a little too dense for her liking, but otherwise liked it. We also picked up some things for Saturday night's dinner.
After lunch, we walked around Pike Market and stopped at Beecher's to buy some cheese. We were a little overwhelmed by the selections of cheese, but picked out the Beecher Havarti, some Humboldt Fog goat cheese, and a really nice blue cheese. We passed by Bottega Italiana, and decided to get some gelato. I got straciatella, which I'd never had before. I really liked the way the base flavor was neutral, which made a nice contrast with the bits of chocolate. There were a few bits of ice in my gelato, though. R. thought the ice cream was not as dense as real gelato from Italy.
For dinner, boyfriend and I went to Thanh Vi in the International District, a new place for us. We got the banh xeo (crepe), which tasted mostly of turmeric to me. We also got some sort of dish that had grilled pork meatball, beef, and shrimp cake on sugar cane, vermicelli noodles, a huge plate of herbs, plus rice paper rolls for wrapping. It was delicious. I keep feeling like I've barely scratched the surface of Vietnamese cuisine. I keep finding new (to me) and wonderful things. We also got lemongrass chicken. It was quite tasty, if not as lemongrass-y as I prefer.
Saturday we walked to Pike again and got some apples from the market, then walked to Gelatiamo. Boyfriend had caramel and chocolate, I had straciatella again and coffee. I thought the gelato was better here overall than Bottega, but I liked the chocolate Bottega used in its straciatella better than the stuff that Gelatiamo used.
We stopped by Neuhaus to get a few chocolates. Their gianduja confections are to die for.
Saturday night we went with R. to Central Market, and picked up a few more things for dinner, including some bread from Essential Bakery. We had way too much food--proscuitto, three kinds of salami (including hot paprika), and gnocchi with lamb sauce from Salumi, the cheese from Beecher's, the bread, and lots of fruits and veggies.
Sunday marked our dating anniversary. We met R. and another friend, E. for lunch at Hosoonyi. Got the seafood crepe, as always (was particularly crispy and good that day), some sort of spicy squid dish and the stuffed chicken soup. The chicken soup tasted under-seasoned. We didn't realize until after we'd finished the meal that we were probably supposed to toss in all of the salt that came with the soup all at once. We've also been advised to try a soft tofu soup on the next trip.
We then drove out to Greenlake, and checked out Chocolati there. E. had a couple of pastries that he really liked. I tried a few of their chocolates (including the cinnamon Aztec) and wasn't blown away.
Sunday night we cooked dinner at home, with provisions from Central Market.
Monday was boyfriend's birthday. We met our friend J. for lunch at Andaluca. We started off with an appetizer of lamb dolmas, which were quite tasty, but were a bit messy to share, since they tended to fall apart. Boyfriend had a preserved lemon and mushroom risotto, I had a tasty (if a bit soggy) lamb burger that I basically inhaled. J. had a chicken and prosciutto sandwich that she really liked.
We went to Amore to continue the chocolate gorging process. Chocolates were fabulous as usual. J. isn't a chocolate fan but was blown away by the chocolate chip cookie there.
Monday night was Mashiko night. Mashiko is boyfriend's favorite restaurant, so we thought it would be great to try their kaiseki dinner.
There were twelve courses.
1. Geoduck ceviche. Chewy bites of geoduck, in a sauce that tasted kind of like salsa fresca.
2. A trio of bites, one of which was salmon belly (very rich), one tofu with uni, shiso, and a squirt of lemon (very pretty), and one striped bass that had been arranged in a barrell-like shape. The striped bass blew me away. Wonderful blend of flavors, and I have no idea what they were.
3. Abalone in sweet mushroom broth. Light.
4. Sea snail. The only dish I disliked. They're extraordinarily chewy, and have no discernable flavor to reward all that chewing. Mariah told my boyfriend, "Well, we had to think hard of something you haven't had here yet." This is not a regular menu item there.
5. Chawan mushi. Wonderful mild flavors, and I had a chance to savor them.
6. Frog legs in garlic sauce on top of salad greens. This was the first time I had frog legs, and they were amazing. They were fried perfectly and the flavors really enhanced the meat for me. I slurped up all of the greens to get the last taste of the sauce.
7. Prosciutto wrapped scallop and spicy crab, topped with avocado and tobiko. This was a favorite of both of us on previous trips, and they remembered. Aww. It was just as incredibly good as we remembered.
8. Baby eggplant in a soy sauce with mirin and sesame. This was a cute little round eggplant with the stem attached, which made a nice handle for tearing apart the eggplant to eat it it.
9. Broiled beef tongue. First time for both of us, and we were both pleasantly surprised. The tongue was made with cayenne or other hot spice, and the spiciness made it really delicious. The meat itself was like chewy or well-done beef.
10. Spinach rice ball with salmon roe (ikura), fried salmon skin. The presentation of this was just beautiful, with the spinach stretched out tightly over the rice ball, and the salmon roe "spilling" out of it. Salmon skin was reminiscent of bacon in flavor.
11. Soup with bonito flakes, clams, tofu, and head-on shrimp. Daikon sprouts added a really nice note to counteract some of the sweetness of the broth.
12. Fresh tamago with unagi. Apparently this is a very painstaking thing to make, and the end results were fabulous. These were quite possibly the best eggs I ever had.
In addition to the stellar food, it was a lot of fun to watch the sushi chefs at work all evening, and there was live jazz music while we there, which was a nice coincidence (boyfriend is a jazz fan). It was a wonderful experience.
Tuesday morning we checked out Cupcake Royale in Madrona. Apparently, even using Guittard chocolates in cupcakes is not enough to make them interesting to us. They were also kind of dried out. We made up for it with two great sandwiches from Banh Mi 88.
I had to fly home tonight (Tuesday), but I had the best meal on the plane: leftover Salumi salami, Havarti and blue cheese from Beecher's, and bread from Essential Bakery.
Now back to semi-normal eating habits and inferior chocolate.